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Antarctica Expedition - Nov 2018

Teaming up with One Ocean Expeditions and The Royal Canadian Geographical Society aboard the Maiden Voyage of the RCGS Resolute

One Ocean Expeditions

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Antarctica 2018 Map
I had the tremendous privilege of being invited by One Ocean Expeditions and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to be on board the maiden voyage of the newly designated ship, the RCGS Resolute. The first vessel ever to carry the prefix RCGS "Royal Canadian Geographical Ship". This voyage was to the Antarctic Peninsula. A place that I have been to several times before, but holds a special place in my heart. It is so spectacular.

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The RCGS Resolute, docked at Punta Arenas, Chile. Soon I would be on board, and heading south.
Gorgeous beams of light over the Straits of Magellan.
I get very seasick, so during our crossing of the Drake Passage, I was either curled up in my bunk, or losing my lunch, but it is all worth it to catch our first glimpses of Antarctic icebergs.

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We had some Bulgarian scientists on board, and we helped to drop them off at their research base which has been sitting unoccupied all winter. Rapidly changing weather and ice conditions almost thwarted their plan to go ashore, but they made it, and first had to dig their way through the snow to the door.
I never get tired of looking at the ice in the polar regions. It is like watching abstract sculptures drift past all day long. This was the view from the stern of the ship.
Of course, the best part is always getting off the ship, and out into the environment. Zodiacs are the best way to get around in Antarctica, either to go ashore, or to cruise around amongst the icebergs.

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This ice looks like it has teeth.
Some bad weather approaching. Mother Nature is always in charge here. We had to improvise our plans frequently due to snow, winds, and ice conditions.
Many layers of icebergs and glaciers.

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The small black dots on the snow are penguins. It was early in the breeding season for them, so they were in the process of mating and laying eggs.
Dramatic mountains, surrounded by glaciers tower up out of the sea here.
A Zodiac returning to the ship after dropping off some passengers ashore.

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Hikers ashore enjoying a good weather day view of the penguins and mountain ranges.
The RCGS Resolute anchored offshore while we explore the land.
Antarctic mountains reflected in the sunglasses of Roger Pimenta, One Ocean's photographer on board.

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Hanging out with a colony of gentoo penguins.
A gentoo penguin couple. This was mating and nest-building season for them.
Gentoo penguins were the ones we saw the most on this trip.

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It was really nice to have the home-base of the ship to operate out of. After several hours of being ashore, or cruising around in Zodiacs, it was nice to return to the ship for a hot meal.
We had a group of almost 20 people from the International Ice Swimming Association on board. Yep, theses folks LOVE to swim in frigid waters.
One of the ice swimmers, hugging an iceberg. Their plan was to have an event where they swim for a mile in water that was -.8 degrees C. Salt water can get below zero without freezing.

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Two gentoos, posing for me in front of the rest of their colony.
A little bit of everything... Penguins, icebergs, the ship, mountains and glaciers.
Recent snows have blanketed the icebergs with a layer of fresh white.

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A humpback whale surfaces off the port side of the ship. They migrate here every year to feed on krill.
The humpback whale goes for a deep dive. They typically raise their tail fluke out of the water when diving.
The view one morning from the observation deck. Mountains, icebergs, a glacier, and icicles that drop into frame from the underside of the ship's bridge deck.

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I just love the contrast between the blacks, blues, and whites.
Antarctica is also home to many species of sea birds including petrels, skuas, and albatross.
Taking one of the Zodiacs through some freshly calved off ice chunks. We gathered one up to use in our evening cocktails at the ship's bar.

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As icebergs flip and melt, you can see the previous water-line, sloping down in the direction that the iceberg used to sit.
Most of these icebergs is below the water's surface. It's sometimes really easy to see how far the ice extends out.
The RCGS Resolute, framed by an iceberg.

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Interlocking 'bergs.
A towering, snow covered iceberg.
A weddell seal, relaxing on some sea ice.

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A Zodiac transports passengers between the shore and the ship, through some stunning scenery.
The bridge of the Resolute.
While in Antarctica, I used a satellite terminal from National Geographic to do a live classroom Google Hangout from Port Lockroy. I frequently do these classroom sessions through Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants.

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Penguins build their nests out of pebbles. The best place to find them? Steal them from your neighbor's next.
A gentoo penguin seems unfazed by the snow coming down.
Stormy Antarctic skies.

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The ice swimmers complete their big event! A mile in the below-freezing waters!
Better them than me. They were very nice people. A bit crazy, but passionate about what they do. They even brought their own doctor on board to help them warm up safely after their swims.
I always carry the flag of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society with me when I travel. I was extra proud to have it on board the RCGS on this maiden voyage in Antarctica.

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Mating season on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The penguins didn't really care about us at all. They were quite curious in fact.
The ice takes on the most surreal shapes and designs.

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Heading back. Crossing the Drake Passage, we encounter Beaufort 11 sea state. The scale only goes to 12, with 12 being hurricane force winds. We had 10+ meter waves! I was happy to reach land in Ushuaia, Argentina. I spent the entire crossing in my bunk as each crashing wave caused the ship to resonate like a gong.

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